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‘Great courage’ hailed as Nicola Sturgeon confirms death of Scottish care worker

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has hailed the bravery of those on the coronavirus frontline as she revealed that a Scottish care worker has died after contracting the disease.

The First Minister paid tribute to the “great courage” of Scotland’s health and social care workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic as she confirmed that the individual from West Dunbartonshire had died as a result of the virus.

It comes as the number of positive cases in Scotland rose to 3,961 – an increase of 255 on Sunday.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We have received confirmation in the last 24 hours that a home care worker in West Dunbartonshire has died with Covid-19 and I want to take the opportunity today to convey my thoughts and my condolences to their loved ones.

“The death of course is a reminder that people working in our health and care services are not only showing immense dedication and expertise.

“Although they are, they are also displaying great courage.”

A total of 199 people are now in intensive care due to Covid-19 with deaths in the country rising by two to 222.

However Ms Sturgeon said the figure is “artificially low” and is not a true reflection of the number of fatalities from across the weekend.

The accurate statistics will be released on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The First Minister also revealed that Scotland’s daily Covid-19 testing capacity has reached 2,000.

At the press conference at St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon faced increased pressure to explain why the country’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood resigned on Sunday night.

Ms Sturgeon had decided to keep her on in the role on Saturday evening.

Dr Calderwood resigned on Sunday night after it came to light she had gone against her own guidance and visited a holiday home in Fife on two occasions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Gregor Smith has stepped into her shoes as interim Chief Medical Officer for the “foreseeable future”.

Ms Sturgeon said she could not see a way forward with Dr Calderwood in light of her not following the government’s own advice.

She said: “It is fair to say this has been a difficult 24 hours for the government but i am acutely aware that that is as nothing compared to the difficulties faced by those who contract Covid-19, or those who get it, or indeed the health and care staff we are calling on to treat them.

“Supporting and helping them will always be our chief priority and that has my and the government’s total focus.

“I take all of thee issues seriously. The line that was issued on Saturday night reflected the information we had at the time – a couple of hours after the query and up against a deadline – of the reason for the visit to her house in Fife that weekend.

Dr Catherine Calderwood.

“She later clarified she had been there the weekend before, and she made that clear at the briefing yesterday morning and was open about that.

“The reasons for being there, whatever those reasons were, were not actually important because they did not provide a justification for her breaching the guidance and advice that was in place.”

Ms Sturgeon added that in a “purely political context” the decision on Dr Calderwood “might have been more straight-forward”.

However she added that the extraordinary conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic made it a more complex matter.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Yesterday I was trying to work out what was the best thing to do in difficult circumstances for the government’s handling of the virus.

These judgements are my responsibility to make as First Minister and I stand by them. but very rarely are these kinds of situations black and white.

“All of us in these positions have to balance a number of things and I have tried to do that in good faith, to the best of my ability, but absolutely focused on what I need to do to equip us to get through this situation as well as we possibly can.”

She added: “I am acutely aware of the importance of the advice that we are giving. I hoped that I could continue to have the advice of the Chief Medical Officer.

“She made a serious mistake in breaching that guidance, but she has also been giving valuable guidance to the government over the course of this epidemic.

“But it became clear to me last night that that was not possible without damaging the trust in and confidence in the government’s message; and that is the most important thing.

“The Chief Medical Officer was wrong to visit her house and my statement, and my continued statement to people of Scotland, is this advice is being given for a reason.

“Because it is the way that we help to slow the spread of the virus, protect the health, service and save lives.

“We will continue to prioritise the vital importance of that advice and, understanding the difficulty of complying with it, asking people to do it for the right reasons.”

Ms Sturgeon also confirmed that Scottish Government adverts featuring Dr Calderwood issuing guidance on Covid-19 are being replaced – but could not shed light on the cost of doing so at this stage.

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